tv Book Discussion on Blessed Experiences CSPAN June 22, 2014 6:45pm-7:46pm EDT
executive chairman of the center for african-american history -- [inaudible] i want to welcome all of you here for this great occasion, the signing and reception for "blessed experience." let's give the congressman a hand. [applause] we want to welcome you to a work in progress. this is the center for african-american history, art and culture. in the late 1800s it was known as the emanuel institute. it was the first school in aiken developed for the children of newly-freed slaves. and since that time it has been a school for several generations, and we're excited about the opportunity to turn this once again into a learning center. aiken has a rich and phenomenal history. a lot of times people aren't aware of the history of the community that they live in. this facility will capture that history. i don't know if you know this or not, but aiken county was
established by african-americans through, during the time of reconstruction. we want to tell the story of that history. i'm an african-american baptist pastor, and what i'm really excited about is the birth place of the african-american baptist church was at silver block baptist church here in aiken county. all of that story and all of the rich stories of aiken will be told at this cultural center, and we thank you for being here. at the end of everything, if you'd like to go on a tour, we'd love to show you what we're up to here at the cultural center. at this time we're going to invite dr. deborah jordan who's the chancellor, she'll come and give us remarks. [applause] >> thank you so much. >> i'm so honored to be invited to give a few remarks on this very important occasion.
luckily, i was just in washington, d.c. and had an opportunity to visit the office of congressman clyburn where i was received very warmly by his staff and then had a chance to be personally welcomed by the congressman, and we had a chance to chat. >> absolutely. >> i was there to thank him for the work he does, the golf tournament he sponsors that provides the ken zader scholarship. it allows students who might not otherwise be able to go to college to get a chance at an education. it was your idea. you helped to create the opportunity. >> thank you. >> and we are so grateful for your dedication to education. while i was there, i had the audacity to ask the congressman to sign a copy of his biography. [laughter] what he may not know is that i had to run all over washington, d.c. to get that book. [laughter]
i am pretty sure i bought the last copy in all of washington. in fact, i had to go almost to maryland. it cost me $65 in a taxi cab. [laughter] but i want to tell you that after i read the book what i did with it, congressman. i got him to sign the book, and i came home, and i read it. and then i donated it to the university library. now, why would i give away a book that cost me extra money -- [laughter] a lot of effort? because with i think it's a book every student in south carolina should read. it's a book that in its essence is about how one person can make a difference not only in our state, but throughout our nation. especially if that's an individual who's working from deep-seeded values and with great integrity. it is such a pleasure to have you here. >> thank you. >> what you may not know is at
one point in his career he, too, was a teacher of tenth grade? >> that's right. >> takes a special person to teach tenth grade. [laughter] i know. that's why i teach college. [laughter] and so i know that there's been a long tradition of valuing education. >> thank you. >> by the congressman. >> i appreciate it. thank you very much. [applause] >> at this time we'd like to ask representative bill clyburn to come and introduce the congressman formally. >> thank you, reverend slaughter. ladies and gentlemen, it's truly an honor and a privilege today to introduce our congressman, our author and a public servant. we refer to him as jim, and i think i've been knowing him now
for probably longer than anyone, to tell you the truth. but the congressman was born and raised in sumter, south carolina, the son of a fundamentalist baptist preacher. his mother was a beautician. he has two brothers, john and james -- john and charles. i've been missing charles. >> me too. >> the congressman is married to the former family angler. now, we refer to his wife as miss -- [inaudible] now, there's a reason for that. she's a really, really great, beautiful, silver-haired lady. [laughter] and you know, when the congressman and i get into discussion, he's quick to tell me, well, i don't agree with you, but when he's talking to miss emily, he listens, you know? [laughter] the president of the united states say you know that when
congressman clyburn speaks, that the congress listens. well, that's true too. but when miss emily speaks, the congressman listens. [laughter] he's been the former chairman of the legislative black caucus. he is the, he's the former chair and vice chair for the democratic caucus in congress. he's been involved with so many things throughout the state. he was educated in the public school system. he graduated from -- [inaudible] he got his education at south carolina state university and south carolina school of law. he has three daughters. matter of fact, one of his daughters is here.
meg, would you please raise your hand? meg is his oldest daughter, and she is a commissioner on the fcc, federal communications commission. and she's here with us today to be with her father signing some books. i can just give you so many good things that the congressman has done. now, he doesn't particularly like me to do his introduction. he doesn't want it done in conceit. but i'm going to be at liberty to tell you that not only am i related to him, but i want to have the opportunity to tell you a couple things about the congressman that you may not know. and dr. jordan alluded to the scholarship. i mean, thousands of scholarships that he's been responsible for through his golf tournament and from first tee, you know? he's been involved with so many
young kids, getting them started off in golf. and that's his favorite sport. he loves to play golf. and the only way, you know, very patient. the only way i can get him upset, really get into a hard discussion with him is about golf and try to make up stories on him, and he gets upset about that. [laughter] but i want to thank the congressman for what he has done not only in his district, but for people throughout the country. you know, you never hear -- [inaudible] speak about that, but you will not believe the contributions that he's made in order to keep his fight going -- [inaudible] and so, mr. congressman, we really, truly appreciate your compassion, and i, i want the
people here to know not only that we are cousins, but we are friends. and we really appreciate miss emily who's really stood by you and has really been helpful in contributing to the -- [inaudible] ladies and gentlemen, congressman -- [applause] >> thank you very much. oh, thank you. thank you. oh, thank you. thank you very much. thank you, bill. thank you, doctor, for presenting here today, and let me thank the developers of this great historic effort. for allowing us to grace your
unfinished business. here today. lessie price, thank you so much, lessie. when i was first or contacted about doing -- first contacted about doing a book signing here in aiken, i really thought that we would probably do it at bill's church where i often meet with him, but lessie thought that it would be in keeping with this effort and with this product for us to do this here. at this facility. those of you who know me, you know that one of my real passions is historic
preservation and restoration. you'll see a lot of that in this book. i believe that these structures, those buildings that house so much of our day-to-day activity, we really learned the character of a community. by looking at the building. these buildings at the period of time within which they were designed and built say something about the culture. and i feel very strongly that we ought to hold on to that. and those of you who are working on this, please know that you are appreciated, and i look forward to finding ways that i can be a part of this effort.
and so thank you all so much for doing this here. now, my wife has just been introduced. thank you. [applause] you see in this book how we met. it's one of those stories that people all over the country seem to enjoy telling. but i tell people though we met in jail -- [laughter] that that's an institution that sometimes worked. for us, it did. [laughter] because if she continues to conduct herself appropriately -- [laughter] in 17 days we will celebrate our 53rd wedding anniversary.
[applause] and i am very pleased that our first born is here with us today. now, she was just in aiken several weeks ago for an event. she is back today really because she had to come home to vote. [laughter] there were a few days trying to get her absentee ballot, it finally happened two days ago she had not received a ballot. and i said to her, well, mignon, i hate for you to go to this great expense, but i would hate to lose this election by one vote. [laughter] so she flew home and decided to stay over for this event, and we thank her so much.
i want to say just a couple of things to you about the book, and i'll answer any questions that you may have. several of you have told me that you have read the book. william, i was supposed to do another introduction, but i see he and his lovely wife are walking through the door, my brother charles is walking in. [applause] ..
came from an experience i had on the governor's side one of my jobs as a staff with the governor was to attend committee meetings and to really take notes and sit down with the governor and let him know exactly how it was with the legislature. one day in one of those meetings we were trying to get a piece of progressive legislation passed in the creation of the south carolina human affairs commission and one of the legislators who wasn't particularly n. amer that idea
said some things in a meeting that i thought crossed the line. after the meeting i went up to him and i told him what i thought. and his explanation to me was you have to understand. i didn't be leave this meant that you had a license to be insulting and to say things that were unbecoming of a public servant in my opinion. and so later that day i said to my colleagues you know when this experience is over i'm going to sit down and write a book and i'm going to entitle to that book i am a southerner. not only am i a southerner that you are a southerner.
and i said to him you don't say things like that. and i hope you don't think that way. and i think that we really need to have a discussion of what it means to be a southerner. that's the way i started. when i got about halfway through the book, i hit a wall and i just didn't get it done. in a little secluded spot in my home where i often go when i'm challenged and can't seem to get things done, i call upon those of aristotle that said a life without contemplation is not worth living. and that's where i go to contemplate and give meaning to my efforts. and on that particular day it
suddenly occurred to me that my father who was a fundamentalist minister who would keep his last meal of the week every friday around 6:00 and wouldn't eat a full meal again until after the church services on sunday. and he would spend all day reading, writing and preparing himself for his services on sunday. he would only drink water and eat bread and that's the way that he prepared. but when he would get up to walk throughout the house he would be humming and i wondered what it
might add get out of that and i went and i got a copy and i read it and i saw in the first and third verses especially in the refrain exactly what my dad got out of that song, and it was like some kind of transition. i don't do how to explain it but i got back to my typewriter and i began to write. it all came to me and when i finish writing i had reached 186,000 words. the university of south carolina
press said to me look at our agreement. we don't publish books of this type beyond 150,000 words. you need to find a way to cut 36,000 words out of the book or it would change the character, it would devalue the effort and would probably drive down the readership. so i spent the next almost two years rewriting the book to take 36,000 words out and resubmitted it and this is the product. now i'm going to conclude by writing the preface to give you
a flavor of what is the book about. my story is one of national leadership and local advocacy. it's the story of a black youngster who grew up in the jim crow south for most of his adult life in the barriers of discrimination and emerged at the national bubble as a political pragmatist and a consensus builder. when i decided to write this memoir i spoke with my longtime friend and confidant philip junior. he was a speechwriter for governor mcnair and john west and wrote books on both of them. his untimely death about two thirds of the way through my
project gave me great pause in more ways than one. we spent many hours discussing our mutual backgrounds and common heritage and different cultures. he was a tremendous help with style and perspective. but from the very beginning i reserved unto myself all substantive content. i've always been frustrated by those that believe the expressions and actions towards me and those that look like me by proclaiming themselves to be southerners moderates or conservatives. we shared a low tolerance for such behavior. and for years i told him that if
i ever wrot wrote a memoir he as promised to help me with, it would be titled by two and a southerner. but long before he became the soi became the sonof the south g of two proudly conservative southerners who treated me and my brothers and people who look like us with great love and affection. my mother spent long hours in a beauty shop and was a generous contributor and supporter of the naacp as well as many other community causes and political activities. my dad always had his last meal of the week around 6 p.m. on
friday to begin preparation for the sunday sermon and services. he always spent most of his saturdays fasting, reading and humming his favorite pen blessed assurance. one day while president obama and i were enjoying a round of golf, he asked about terrorists as we discussed this project. when i told him the working title and why i have chosen it, he broke into his imitation and started singing one of the verses. i did it here but i felt certain that my dad never knew. my dad's mother and the composer of the music to that shared the
same not so common given name. this is my story and this is my song. thank you. [applause] with the fact i will answer any questions that you may have and we would like you to raise your hand if you have a question. someone with a wireless microphone will come to you. so both a question and an answer can be had if c-span decides to air this.
>> yes-man. >> i'm currently a candidate [inaudible] in one of the stories you told a little bit about the bowling alley and how that experience rallied around the community. i am a product of my mother taking me to the bowling alley and having those same experiences and being able to open it to the community. what advice can you share for this book for a candidate looking at ways to rally the community to be of support to each and everyone? >> i think in order to a lot of times see the blessing and these experiences you have to look back. i say input of the preface all
of my experiences have not been pleasant, but i've considered all of them to be blessings. one of my professors my sophomore year at south carolina state said to me during a back and forth when they young man, you must understand that you will never be any more nor will you ever be any less than what your experiences allow you to be. i think one of the things that we fall short of in our society is really learning to respect the background and experiences of other people. you will find in this book a discussion of the differences
between me and emily who grew up on a 22-acre farm in the suburbs in the whiteville area. she grew up walking to school 2 miles in the morning and 2 miles in the afternoon. they were not allowed school buses until later. i grew up on a paved street three blocks from my elementary school. i was six blocks from my middle school and i graduated from the academy as we call it in those days a boarding school. my dormitory was 20 steps from my academic hall so i never knew what it was to walk to school
for miles and walk back home. so when i express some disenchantment with the court decision case that ordered busing to integrate the schools in charlotte north carolina and i said so publicly emily sent me down that evening and explained to me in vernacular what it was not to be able to read a school bus and explained that i should not ever be against busing. so i say this. when you are running for office it seems to me you would do well to understand the people that
you are asking to vote for you. [applause] i think a lot of people get carried away running for office they see some tv commercials and that kind of stuff. that isn't what being in the public is all about to me. it's about respecting people's backgrounds, reconciling differences and doing what you can to move an agenda that everybody can buy into. so a lot of times it may require that you suppress your own feelings to get an agenda done. i would say that for anybody running for office. as i said in the award to the book it is a letter to my children, my grandchildren and
all other children similarly challenged. and it says to them how i feel the need to conduct themselves. if you're going to have a business gets to the people that you want for your customers. if you're going to run for office, get to know the people that you are asking to vote for you. i think that is much more important than for them to get to know you. [applause] congressman, my favorite story in the book i think ends up a theme throughout the book was the story that your father told you and your brothers when you were wrestling and competing with each other about the strength of the court found together but as i read your book it seems to me that is a
metaphor for how we should work together in our communities and how we should work together in the nation. can you speak to that please? >> thank you very much doctor jordan. i never told this story. it happened when i was maybe 12 or 13-years-old. my brothers and i had gone with my dad to have a 1937 chevrolet worked on. i always said that was a good car. you could run into a pool or a treaty or backup and keetree org and there wouldn't be a band but it seem seemed to know anything saturday came. it would just stop working. on this particular saturday three of us went with dad to the
automobile repair place which was under a tree in his yard. just as he hooked up the pulley to the front end of the car and started to raise the front end to get it running for another week my brothers and i started playing in the other car. he said to us look i don't know how strong it is. it may pop, the car may drop on one of you. go across the field and play. so we went out across the field, we were gone long before he got into a little physical discussion. [laughter] those of you that observed that you might call it a fight, but it was a physical discussion. [laughter] we didn't know but my dad was watching us. and after he thought that it had
gone on long enough, he called the three of us over to him and lined us up in front of him and he had a piece of string sitting on one of those crates and he said i want you to pop this string. so he struggled and he couldn't. he took it back. you are to years older and stronger. john struggled and he couldn't. he then gave it to me and said he was the oldest and strongest, you pop the string. and i struggled. he then took it back and he put it in the palm of his hand and began to rub his hands together.
the more unraveled it became and in very short order it wasn't three pieces. he gave one to charles, one for john and one to me and said now pop the strings. he said they want us to be a lesson to you for as long you live. don't let the little disagreements but crop up among you create so much friction that it separates you because if you do, the world will pop you apart and you may never know why.
i never shared a story publicly until my dad and that was the first time that it had a remarkable impact on me and still has. every time i see a disagreement cropping up among the three of us that we threaten our future relationships, i stopped. my brother john one time as we were arguing he stopped me and said hey stop. you're not going to change my mind and i'm not going to change your mind. let's talk about something else. so that's the way that we get along with. that turned out to be one of the
greatest stories. [inaudible] one of the things i noticed in the buck is there you spoke about having fallen into your father's footsteps and that you were still second-guessing that decision. i remember a couple of years ago when they have a community acquired the forms and you were to get a speaker at strom thurmond high school and i remember the speech of the address being so dynamic until when you finished i whispered to the lady next to me i knew that we accept and nominate him.
when i read in the book you were second-guessing yourself i wondered if you could share why because i think having heard you two and three years ago you would have been as all som awesa minister as you are a politician and leader and congressman and i'm just curious. >> thank you so much for that. my dad and i always when i was a kid would talk about my father in the ministry because i grew up in the church. when i say grow up in the church i mean grew up in the church. i went to sunday school at 9:30 in the morning, worship at 11:00, youth fellowship at five and prayer meeting at 7:30 in wednesday night and friday
night. i grew up in the church. and so it just seemed to be a natural thing. around my sophomore year i was going to the seminary at anderson cottage in north carolina are inserted from indiana where our church headquarters was. i had gone for the summer's with my dad. my first experience in an integrated environment was on that church ground in indiana and i just knew that that was what i was going to do. but my sophomore year after getting out of that wasn't working but to be serious about
it i decided i was going to go off in different directions i decided to tell my dad. i thought he would be disappointed and he probably was but he didn't show it. he simply said attorney i expect the world with battersea a sermon didn't hear one and that was the last time that we discussed it. so that gave me the license to go off and do other things, but throughout my entire professional career i find myself reverting back to that and especially in writing this book i just realize i wrote the preface pretty much after i finished the book and i realized
writing this book i was in fact second guessing as to whether or not i had done the right thing. but to be frank, i didn't feel that i was ready to make the kind of commitment to. it was hard for me to do not live my sermons. i didn't think i was ready to move the fundamentals i would be preaching. we were about to get married and she didn't think that i would either. [laughter] i do a lot more drinking and
evenings than taking communion. [laughter] >> representative, it is extremely exciting to me that you have come to do your book signing here. there are a number of young people in the audience and i wish that you would talk about the value of education. kids don't seem to value that as much as they sometimes showed. >> to the young people that are here let me say two things to you. first there is a part in this book that deals with how people react to failure. when i first came fo to office n 1970, i lost. i ran again in 1978 and i lost. i ran again in 1986 they lost.
at the end a friend said to me what are you going to do now? who have just lost for the third time and you know what they say three strikes and you're out. i said to my friend that's a baseball rule and nobody should live their life by a baseball rule. i say to every young person especially in south carolina young people should live by our state motto. the one that i like the best is on this you'll. every address that i gave them
every graduation it can be from an elementary school, it can be from high school, college, law school i was the speaker for his law school graduation and i gave them the same message. while i agree that i hope. you should never give up on your dreams and aspirations. so i say to young people as my mother said to me study hard. they said let me tell you something. you only have three months to
graduate. the silent treatment is nothing. as i say to young people if you can't get the problem solved the first time, try and try again. your grandparents, parents, nobody ever said detroit one more time or two more times or three more times. there is no numerical limit on how many times you try. we are here enjoying this life and we get thomas edison credit. i want somebody to tell me how many times thomas edison field before getting it right. nobody knows. and nobody goes around talking
about how many times thomas edison field. people celebrate him for his success. and so i say to young people education is the great equalizer in our society. and i know how tough it is. you've got to put a value on education. and if you fail, then try again. you see in the buckeye field physics at south carolina state. not because i couldn't do it. i guess i could if i attempted to. but it's kind of hard to get to the business class when you stay up all night planning sedans because it -- sit-ins and that kind of stuff.
failing means that you have something to overcome. if i had quit after losing a third kind i never would have become the number three guy in the united states house of representatives. [applause] >> you probably don't remember me but after going off to the high school a couple of years ago i just want to say one thi thing. because of people like you that raise the political parties or anything else we are one for all in one girl. what you are telling these kids can set your goals high and don't let anyone or anything
keep you from being the best you can be. god bless you sir. [applause] stack there is a saying in the book where president clinton gives you a call and wants to give you a hard time. how difficult was that and how much did that catch you off guard and have you repaired those relationships since? >> the phone call did catch me off guard. it was a little after two, 2:15 were 2:30 in the morning. and it was nothing unusual for me to stay up late like that on an election night because i wasn't always looking at the results coming in from south carolina but i was looking at the trends all across the country. so when going from c-span to
msnbc going all over to see exactly what happened. so i was up. there was a conversation with another person before the president came on the line and he was pretty upset because his wife had just been defeated pretty decisively in the south carolina primary and of course she thought i ha that i had puty thumb on the scales a little bit and in favor of president obama. i say in the book there is no way in the world for me -- a daughter angela, who is my youngest, is at her job at fight o'clock every day and she is down at the obama headquarters until midnight almost every
night. jennifer who is older there is no question in my mind who she favored in the campaign. there's no way in the world. i have to now three grandchildren. yes i voted for obama but i didn't publicly get involved in the campaign. and so i asked him to tell me why he thought that i haven't kept the promise i made. south carolina had been given the opportunity to be the first to stay in the south to have a primary and i was asked during the process whether or not i could stay neutral in the campaign, because if i could not, they would not reword -- thebethey would not award the py to the state and so i had.
i opened up a part of the book in a particular chapter where she asks me how did you vote in this primary? she never knew until he asked the question and quite frankly did she ask me the morning after the primary she didn't ask me how are you going to vote. she asked me how did you vote in this primary. first time she ever asked me that before. so, i think i kept my promise. but i can understand. it was a pretty emotional campaign. and certainly bill clinton and i have had many conversations since that one coming and i talk about it in the book where we happened to be sitting next to each other at the funeral. we chatted that they had many times since. we had breakfast with hillary
clinton while she was the secretary of state. so i don't think there are any lingering animosity is there. but certainly it was a tough time and i can understand that. >> we will take two more questions. the >> there's someone on the wall back here. >> good afternoon, congressman, is an only commims. emily, to yo the doctor reverend whose leadership i followed here spiritually. i am a washingtonian. my roof is held here but however i was on my way to the leadership and i attended that.
to my amazement for many years i thought that you were a congressman of all people. i want to congratulate you on the achievements that you have brought not only to the nation but internationally. being from washington, you have brought together so many people of all races and we thank you. god bless you and your family. [applause] >> i want to first of all thank you and your bride for being here today. it's an honor to witness history in the making and i think you and your family for coming here today. i don't know if it is possible
that -- the reason why i want to say what i have to say is in addition to the relationship with christ by the next important relationship is the marriage between my husband and me that is one of the greatest accomplishments i had and i know that with you as mentioned the relationship in your book with you having been married for 53 years and now in society we have people ready to give up on marriage at the drop of a dime how weren't you able to hold it all together with him doing all the things he does you are maintaining your identity and being that support. that is a message in and of
itself. it's been a challenge. i try to be realistic about marriage and holding the family together. you have to share and give up a lot now. in any case i'm giving up more than you're giving up and in many cases it is the reverse. but we tend to battle politically. but when it comes to family, we are together. we try to raise our children and husband and wife, mother and father against each other, so we are pretty calm about that and
we try to respect each other's belief and we just move along and it's too much trouble to pass and go someplace. [laughter] >> she said i want to hear this one. before we get into the book signing, we have a number of people to thank and if you'd give me 50 seconds this cannot go unrecognized if you don't mind. it took a lot to form this together because you all know this is under construction. the first person i want to
acknowledge is joanne saunders. [applause] >> our sponsors, we have courtney clyburn and in addition, when you go they are always ready to support you. they have participated in putting the electrical wiring together to make this happen. raise your hand. he's the architecture of this building. [applause] so they adopted the rule.
moving forward with the boys and girls club and c-span. i just want to thank you for being here and what you are doing to publicize other with a congressman is doing. thank you so much. [applause] we heard that michael jordan was coming with her. stand up. [applause] think all of you for your support and what you've done. >> if you walk through there is a reception and there will be people if you're interested on going on the two are there will be people to show you through the rest of the building. thank you so much, congressman
for being here and for what you do. thank all of you for your time. god bless you. [inaudible conversations] booktv continues. she talks about the history of an invisible ink going back to ancient greece. the professor looks at the use of invisible ink during the revolutionary war -- not seized them of the, al qaeda and others. she also talks about the people that came up with the new ways to hide important messages over the years. this is about one hour and 15 minutes.